Absence of conflict of interest.
The study's objective was to examine the impact of the California Paid Family Leave Program (CA-PFL) on employment and wages.
The study used a difference-in-differences analysis to compare the outcomes of mothers who gave birth under CA-PFL to mothers who gave birth without CA-PFL. Using statistical models and data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors estimated the impact of CA-PFL on employment and wages.
The study found a statistically significant relationship between CA-PFL and an increase in employment outcomes.
This study receives a low evidence rating. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to CA-PFL; other factors are likely to have contributed.
California paid family leave program (CA-PFL)
Features of the Intervention
The United States does not guarantee new mothers maternity leave. In 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guaranteed some people in the United States with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during which their jobs would be protected. Since FMLA was passed, individual states have created policies to provide additional paid or unpaid leave. In 2002, California enacted a paid family leave program (CA-PFL) which took effect on July 1, 2004. CA-PFL gives California workers the opportunity to be paid for up to six weeks of leave after they birth or adopt a child. All California private sector employees are eligible for CA-PFL as are people who work in the public sector with sufficient work history (a minimum of 300 hours worked in the 5-17 months prior to using CA-PFL). While CA-PFL does not include job protection, people can use FMLA, which does include job protection, at the same time as CA-PFL.
Features of the Study
The study used a difference-in-differences analysis to assess the impact of CA-PFL on employment and wage outcomes. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors compared outcomes for those who gave birth under CA-PFL (on or after July 1, 2004, in California) to those who were not under CA-PFL (in California before July 1, 2004, or in other states before or after July 1, 2004). The sample included mothers who had children between 2000 and 2010, were between 15 to 29 at the time of the birth and worked for at least 20 weeks during their pregnancy. The authors used statistical models to estimate the impact of CA-PFL on employment and wage outcomes. The authors compared changes in outcomes for mothers in California before (n=176) and after (n=85) CA-PFL was enacted as well as to mothers in other states before (n=593) and after (n=1,333) CA-PFL was enacted.
Earnings and compensation
The study found no statistically significant relationship between CA-PFL and wages one year after birth.
The study found that CA-PFL was associated with a significant increase in employment before birth and from 2 days to 52 weeks after birth, except for 13 and 26 weeks after birth.
For mothers who were employed for at least 20 weeks during pregnancy, the study found that CA-PFL was associated with a significant increase in return to work during the year after birth (18.3 percentage points). It also was significantly associated with a 7.1 week increase in weeks worked and 2.8 hour increase in hours worked per week during the second year after birth.
For mothers who were employed at any time during pregnancy, the study found that CA-PFL was associated with a significant increase in return to work during the year after birth (13.9 percentage points). It also was significantly associated with a 5.3 week increase in weeks worked and 2 hour increase in hours worked per week during the second year after birth.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors compared labor outcomes for parents in California to other states. Because the analysis considered a policy operating in only one state, it is impossible to disentangle the effect of CA-PFL from the effect of the state itself; this is known as a confounding factor. The authors tested for comparability of parental leave trends and found no significant differences across groups for these trends; however, it is possible that some findings in the California group were based on other California-specific characteristics not included in the analyses. We cannot attribute the estimated effects with confidence to CA-PFL, and not to other factors. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the program was implemented in only one state presenting a confounding factor. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to CA-PFL; other factors are likely to have contributed.